Shipwreck of the Bloxom

dsc_0330

This big red tugboat is probably the most iconic wreck in the graveyard

Old ships don’t get much respect after they’ve been deemed obsolete. No matter how faithful, how old, or how historic, almost every ship will eventually find itself sold for scrap and broken down. The Arthur Kill Shipwreck Graveyard is home to around 100 ships, some of historic significance, doomed to meet this fate. The Bloxom is one of them

The wreck of the Bloxom is probably the most intact and most visible from shore. She was built in West Virginia for the US Army in 1944, originally named the LT-653. After her military career, she was sold to the Pennsylvania Railroad Co, where she worked until being sent here in the 1970’s. She was powered by a oil-fed steam engine, and was used for ocean towing.

dsc_0288

A rusty refrigerator aboard the Bloxom

Getting aboard the Bloxom was tough- i had to tie off my kayak and climb up a rotted hawser that was still dangling over the side. Holes have rusted into the deck in many places, with nothing but foul green water underneath. Sharp, rusty metal was everywhere. While i got out with only a few minor cuts, it could have been much worse.

dsc_0291

A crew member’s rack(bed) in one of the rooms: you can still see the uncomfortable looking spring mattress. The crew probably would have slept in shifts of 6 hours on, 6 hours off.

The Bloxom has separate quarters, originally designed to house a racially segregated crew.

dsc_0297

The tug’s galley, still filled with rusty equipment

Being in the scrapyard, I expected to find the ship totally gutted. I was pleasantly surprised to find a fair amount of furnishing still remaining on board. There were even some rusty old tools scattered around.

DSC_0320.JPG“Sir i think there’s minor flooding in the engine room”

Pretty much everything below the main deck is flooded. More is exposed at low tide, but i would strongly advise not walking anywhere that spends time submerged, as the rust is much worse.

DSC_0325.JPGOne of the huge stockless anchors resting on the deck

This is not where the anchor is supposed to be… I actually have no idea how it got up here.

dsc_0321

The bow

 

DSC_0326.JPG

The bridge seen from the bow

 

DSC_0319.jpgThe view from the bridge

Unlike almost all abandoned places, i found no trace of activity on the wreck: no graffiti, no footprints, no anything. I don’t know how long its been since someone stood on the bridge and looked out across the bow.

DSC_0329.JPG

The ship’s other anchor is still held in place

Although the Bloxom is in a scrapyard, she’s so rusty and full of holes that her scrap value is probably very low. Unless somebody decides to do something with her, she’ll sit there in the mud until she rusts away into nothing.

I would not recommend boarding the Bloxom. The floors are so weak and rusty that collapse is a very real threat.

 

 

S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse

DSC_0991

A large, open room filled with wooden support beams, top floor

The S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse was built in 1886 on the shores of Brooklyn’s vile Gowanus Canal. It stored grain and animal feed, both which were valuable commodities in a time when horses were used for everything from pulling the carriages of the elite and wealthy to plowing the fields of the farms still prevalent in the outer boroughs. The company’s fortunes were directly tied to grain,and when cars replaced horses on the city streets, the storehouse was forced to become a general warehouse, until it was finally abandoned sometime around the 1960’s.

DSC_1003

The very top of the factory. Those flimsy boards are the only things between an explorer and a 2 story fall.

S.W.Bowne, the storehouse’s owner, was not the standard rich person of his day. Instead of sitting in a comfortable office lavishing in his own wealth, he spent his time in the storehouse, doing manual labor alongside his workers. One day, while helping his workers carry lumber, his foot broke through the floor and was caught in a machine, which tore apart his leg. After the amputation that followed, Bowne was forced to sue for worker’s compensation, which was contested by his board of directors. He won, however, when the NY Appeals Court ruled that while Bowne was the owner of the company, he was also a working employee, and was therefor entitled to worker’s comp.

DSC_0947

Wooden beams and floors still stand strong after almost 150 years

While Red Hook is filled with abandoned warehouses, the S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse is uniquely significant. Most abandoned industrial buildings, even ones older than this, are filled with modern equipment and have often been renovated or added to in more (relatively) recent times. This storehouse, however, looks pretty much the same as it did in the 1880’s, inside and out. Nothing has been added to it. The original wood floors were never done away with in favor of concrete. This old building may be the best look into industrial history you can still visit today.

DSC_0985

Before newfangled elevators were invented, pulleys like this were used to hoist heavy goods into the upper floors of factories and warehouses. This very obsolete piece of equipment still stands tall over the canal.

Wood floors are usually very unsafe for urban explorers. Wood floors that have not been maintained since the 1960’s have usually long since collapsed. However, bags of grain are very heavy, so the floors of the storehouse were built STRONG. In most places the wood floors still feel as solid as concrete. Time and the elements have created some weakness though, especially under the small collapse in the roof. On the top floor, you can still see two holes, one where an explorer fell through, and one where his friend fell through trying to help him. Watch your step, look out for water damage and stay safe.

DSC_0963

Signs in English, Italian and Yiddish can be found in the storehouse, giving a glimpse into who worked here long ago.
*Update: This is a no smoking sign written in Yiddish- thank you to Joseph Alexiou for the translation!

Due to ease of access, the storehouse has a lot of graffiti, a lot of which is beautiful and well done.

DSC_0964.JPG

Third floor, with pillars marked west and east. Notice how well supported the roof is.

DSC_0952

Factory door

DSC_0967

The first floor

DSC_0981.JPG

The storehouse from outside

DSC_0003

An industrial sunset

Next to the storehouse are two huge, empty warehouses. Getting in is easy, and there isn’t much inside, so the urban explorer would probably take little interest. However, they are filled with graffiti, so if that’s your thing stop by and check it out.

DSC_0978

The warehouses near the storehouse are huge but empty

DSC_0970

This one has an old boat out front for some reason

Maas & Waldstein Company Chemical Factory

 dope

“ATTENTION!! THIS CONTAINER HAZARDOUS WHEN EMPTY. Since emptied container contains product residue (vapor or liquid), all labeled hazard precautions must be observed.”

Urban exploration, in general, is much better in the winter than in the summer. Truly abandoned places get overgrown fast, making it harder to move(and almost impossible to do so quietly). Your respirator gets sweaty and uncomfortable, exposed skin gets scratched up, and the heat generally makes things less enjoyable. I faced all these problems at the old Mass and Waldstein Company’s chemical factory, but by far the worst part were the relentless mosquitoes coming from the stagnant, muddy puddles i had to slog through on the way to the interior of the area. Please, if you go here in the warmer months, take some bug spray. Or just wait until winter.

DSC_0582

Inside the chemical factory, with huge overturned chemical vats seen on the right side

The Maas and Waldstein Company’s factory was founded in 1876 near the shores of New Jersey’s disgusting Passaic River. Over the years it grew, adding on new buildings and producing everything from soda flavoring to explosives used by the WWI French Army. It was abandoned sometime around the 90’s.

DSC_0551

Despite being abandoned fairly recently, the factory is in terrible condition.

The Maas and Waldstein Company Factory has a grim side to its long history. In 1916, workers went on strike for better hours(they only wanted to work 10 hours a day, how lazy is that?) and better pay(they wanted a whole 30 cents per hour!). The company did not listen to their complaints and hired new workers, causing many to lose their jobs. One of the company’s most exploitative ways to get new workers was to send recruiters down south to try and sign on as many poor blacks as possible. To increase the numbers of workers they brought in, recruiters would describe the lynchings of the south in gory detail in attempt to scare blacks to move north and work. They advertised that “To die from the bite of frost is far more glorious than at the hands of the mob.” Blacks came seeking opportunity, but found poor wages, long hours, and dangerous work. The factory had multiple fires and explosions during its history, some so large that people in the area felt their houses shake.

DSC_0566

Chemical vats

Today, the Maas and Waldstein Company Factory’s many buildings are in very poor condition. If you’re interested in exploring here, try to go soon. I have a feeling it won’t be around much longer.

DSC_0557

“NO SMOKING”

DSC_0544

Evil looking black ooze

DSC_0560

Factory room

DSC_0558

Spray paint cans on an old shelf 

DSC_0535

A can of kerosene, probably used by arsonists

DSC_0538

Total chaos

DSC_0556

Pretty standard abandoned factory sights

DSC_0587

The standard red brick smokestack

Colt Gun Mill/Allied Textile Printers

DSC_0424

“Abe Lincoln may have freed all men, but Sam Colt made them equal”

Long before the Colt Revolver would become one of the most iconic American guns, Samuel Colt opened up a small factory in in the town of Paterson, NJ. Here, from 1836 to 1841, he would produce the very first Colt Revolvers, as well as various muskets and rifles. Many of the guns produced here would be sold to western settlers out on the frontier, and some probably even saw service in the Civil War. After 1841 and the closing of the gun mill, this site’s history becomes far more complicated, hosting a multitude of other industries, including a silk mill, cotton manufacturer, and dye works. The area finally died in the 1980’s, ending around 150 years of service. Today, all of the different mills and factories sit jumbled together in an overgrown and chaotic landscape.

DSC_0409

I believe this is the original gun mill from the 1830’s

Exploring this area is tough, as you are almost always climbing over collapsed buildings and through thick plant growthThe buildings here are also in terrible condition, some of them so bad that you can’t even go inside.

DSC_0420

Falling apart

With great care to avoid collapse, I entered this building.

DSC_0407

The inside isn’t in very good condition either…

DSC_0406

A stairway

DSC_0399

Upper Floor

DSC_0404

Nature has begun to reclaim the various factories

DSC_0411

A wall in the woods

DSC_0397

Darkness

DSC_0391

Another Factory on this site 

DSC_0394

The inside of that factory

DSC_0430

Chemical tanks inside another building

Market Street Power Plant

DSC_0304
The Market Street Power Plant, or to be exact, the New Orleans Public Service Incorporated Power Plant, is a massive brick building with two smokestacks that tower over the low houses of the New Orleans Garden District. Built in 1905 to serve a city growing in both population and industry, the power plant served for almost 70 years, until it was finally abandoned in 1973.
DSC_0292
Right after entering the power plant
The first thing i found inside was troubling: the whole bottom floor area was strung up with lit up lamps, all of which looked new and maintained. Maybe this place isn’t as abandoned as you’d think.
DSC_0293
Why is this here???

The power plant is huge, yet fairly easy to explore, as it is mostly made up of massive, breathtaking rooms.
DSC_0227

Looking down into the plant’s main room

This is the largest room in the whole power plant, spanning from basement to roof, and jam packed with machines, dials, and pipes. One really does feel small standing here.

DSC_0264

Main room from its middle floor

DSC_0272

Dials and controls in the main room

DSC_0263

Looking down to a pool of foul water at the bottom of the main room

After climbing multiple sets of treacherous stairs, some that showed evidence of previous collapse, i managed to reach the roof.

DSC_0204  Best view in the city!

The roof here is directly over the main room. If it was to collapse, the fall would take you to the basement floor. Ouch.

DSC_0201

The famous double smokestacks

DSC_0223

The wind kept these two fans spinning as if they were still on

Coming down from the roof, i set out to explore the rest of the power plant. There are multiple other big, open rooms.

DSC_0232

A big room on the upper floor

This room had multiple plastic kiddie pools in it. I have no idea why.

DSC_0284

Another huge room, with windows easily recognizable form outside

DSC_0279

From higher up

After going down a staircase in this room, i noticed a modern looking piece of technology that proudly claimed to be a motion activated camera. Uh oh! Time to beat a hasty retreat!
DSC_0283

A cargo ship passes by on the Mississippi
DSC_0288

Escape! The way to the door out

If you choose to explore the Market Street Power Station, know that there are motion cameras, brittle floors/stairs, barbed wire, and a host of other dangers, as well as that its not fully abandoned for whatever reason and there are lights still on. Explore at your own risk, but know its truly breathtaking on the inside.

Substation No. 3

DSC_0086

Substation No. 3 is one abandoned building that has truly been forgotten. While many abandoned places have names and extensive histories already written about them, substation no. 3 boasts no fame, recognition, or even acknowledgment. Even finding the name “Substation No. 3” required 2 days of research, finally turning up one old photo with “substation no3 at Kingsbridge NY” scrawled in pen on the bottom. While other Bronx substations such as Substation No. 10 have been noticed, explored, and even redeveloped, substation no. 3 still sits forgotten in a small lot next to the Merto-North tracks and Bronx River.

DSC_0035

Inside Substation No. 3

There were multiple of these substations, or converter stations, built around the city in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s as the city’s transit system started to grow. Their main purpose was to convert the AC power from power plants into the DC power that the trains needed to run on, which is what happened in the massive rotary converters that can be seen in these photos. The rotary converters were difficult and costly to run, requiring constant maintenance and supervision by a team of workers on station 24/7. Eventually, in the 1940’s and 1950’s, the rotary converter was rendered obsolete by new technology that could do the same thing with almost no moving parts and no personal. The substations were obsolete, and were demolished or abandoned.

photo-124

A rotary converter

The main room of Substation No. 3 is large and open, with two massive skylights letting in the light and now the elements. Other than the rotary converters, there are massive control boards covered in buttons and levers.

DSC_0051

Mad scientist looking electrical controls

There is a small door right next to the entrance to the substation. Going into it leads you to a couple of storage bays, dark, dirty, and completely filled with debris. Having no respirator, i chose not to stay in these rooms for long.

DSC_0084

DSC_0079

The gloomy and dark storerooms

The way into Substation No. 3 is huge, exposed, and obvious, although it does require a climb to get into and a jump to get down from. As far as i could tell, this is the only practical way in and out.

DSC_0056

Looking at the entry point from the catwalk on the other side of the substation

The massive skylights on the roof both let in light and the elements, causing the deterioration of the substation’s machinery and floor.

DSC_0121

One of the massive skylights

The grounds of Substation No. 3 are still used as a parking lot/storage area by the MTA. Be weary, as there may be security on site.

Santa Fe Grain Elevator (The Damen Silos)

DSC_0138

In the 1800’s, Chicago, at the southern tip of Lake Michigan, became one of the largest centers of the nations growing grain trade. Obviously, industrialists searched for the best way to participate in this lucrative business, and came up with the concept of the grain elevator: a massive, usually concrete industrial building that can receive, store, and distribute grain in the most efficient way possible. Chicago’s ideal location near the Midwest, where grain is grown, and on the Great Lakes, where grain can be shipped, meant that soon grain elevators were popping up as fast as industrialists could make them. One of the main issues with these grain elevators was that grain dust + oxygen + spark = explosion.

The story of the Santa Fe Grain Elevator starts in 1905 with an explosion and a fire. The old grain terminal in that area, on a river a short distance away, exploded, and burned to the ground almost immediately. While some saw this as a disaster resulting in thousands of dollars of property gone and multiple lives lost, others saw it as a business opportunity. The next year, architect John S. Metcalf and the Santa Fe railroad company, among others, built a new and modernized grain elevator not far from the one that had been destroyed.

DSC_0137 The Santa Fe Grain Elevator Today

The Grain elevator was truly an amazing example of industry. It surpassed its now deceased counterpart’s capacity, now able to reach 1,700,000 bushels of grain when full. It drew water from the canal right into its own power plant, which generated the 1,500 horsepower needed to keep the elevator’s machinery going. However, for all of the impressive industrial technology it had, the old problem of exploding grain dust never went away.

DSC_0080

An old piece of machinery 

In 1932, an explosion destroyed part of the elevator and killed 3 workers. To the owner’s credit, they did attempt to repair the elevator to make it as fireproof as possible, but a series of fires and explosions in other grain elevators around the city crippled the Chicago grain trade as a whole. Soon, Chicago was thoroughly out-competed by other Midwestern cities. The end came in 1977, when a huge explosion and fire put the Santa Fe Grain Elevator out of commission for good.

DSC_0089

Inside the grain elevator itself

The Grain Elevator made an appearance in the movie Transformers 4, where the bridges that connected the two sections were blown up. The city is currently trying to sell the property for a steal of a deal at only 11 million dollars.

DSC_0063

The abandoned warehouse is dwarfed in size by the massive silos of the elevator

DSC_0068

Shattered windows in the abandoned warehouse

DSC_0065

Large open space inside the warehouse

DSC_0126

An abandoned… Building? Frame? Take your pick

There are many rumors about ways one can still get to the top of the silos, although i found no ladders during my exploration. The property is fenced off, but if you look hard enough, jumping the fence is not necessary. This building has been abandoned for a fairly long time, so watch out for collapse and condition issues, although it definitely seems to have been built to last.

Thanks for reading!